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Benjamin Boone with the Ghana Jazz Collective: Joy

Album review by Christa V.

Benjamin Boone is a saxophonist and a composer who recorded this album while living in Ghana for a year on a Fulbright scholarship. Tracks 1, 3, 5, and 6are all his original compositions. The entire record is incredibly energetic and full of life, definitely makes you want to get up and dance! I particularly loved“Maiden Voyage” for the great bass line underneath the sustained notes in the melody, and “The 233 Jazz Bar” for its funk influences. Track 6 features anexcellent female vocalist, and the song sounds more like a pop song than jazz which is an interesting touch of variety in a very jazzy record. And the finalsong, “Joy,” has a beautiful melody, very happy and dance-y, a perfect way to close it out!  Favorite tracks: 2, 3, 5, 7

Cesspool Presents, Grief Barbie: You Could Have Lived With Us

Album review by Victoria A.

Cesspool is an institution in the NYC experimental scene, churning out danceable smears of sound at parties and clubs for 10 years. They base their sound in artifice, taking instruments and the human voice and reprogramming them to the effect of running something through google translate 100 times until unrecognizable. The "they" of Cesspool became a "she" after the sudden and tragic death of one of the members. Out of that horror came Grief Barbie. It is a raw, devastating, and still weirdly danceable exploration of grief, friendship, guilt, queerness, and sisterhood that elevates experimental music to emotional heights rarely achieved. If you like electro, noise, or just albums by sad girls about death, it is worth a listen.

Boy Pablo album review

Nicholas Munoz, better known as Boy Pablo, has returned to the scene with his new album Wachito Rico. Munoz has risen to indie prominence in the past couple of years, largely thanks to his 2017 EP ‘Roy Pablo’ and 2018 EP, ‘Soy Pablo’, which featured several singles that took off, namely “Dance, Baby!”, “Feeling Lonely”, and “Everytime”. Past Boy Pablo projects prominently feature drowned out guitar riffs, heavy use of synths, and easily digestible lyrics on the topics of teenage life, romance, and maturing. This work is certainly listenable, but not even his most popular songs have excited me or stuck with me in the slightest, as is the case with the majority of the bedroom pop scene that continues to establish itself. Wachito Rico is no different: completely listenable, but it doesn’t stick even after multiple listens. 

 

Wachito Rico suffers tremendously from a monotonous and criminally non-offensive sound that makes this 40 minute listen feel like 2 hours. If there were an algorithm that could create the most average indie/bedroom pop tracks based on current trends, many of them would fit perfectly on this album. “I hope she loves me back” starts the record on a dark path of bland instrumentation and meaningless lyrics, the most painful of which have to be the opening words: “Staring at her, can't help it. Thinking 'bout her 'cause oh, my God she's beautiful. I can't believe she's mine, yeah.”; I had a feeling I would probably be in for a long one. The remaining 40 minutes are largely consumed by one indistinguishable song after another that are so average that they put you to sleep. Tracks like “leave me alone!”, “rest up”, and “come home” fulfil the basic requirements of radio friendly bedroom pop and don’t contribute a shred of artistry or creativity beyond that. 

 

It may seem that I am being too harsh on this record because, well, the music isn’t bad. The reason why I view this so negatively is because albums like this annoy me more than albums that I find objectively bad. I appreciate music that introduces me to something new, whether I like it or not. Wachito Rico is an annoying listen, I was constantly looking for Munoz to do something new, but it rarely happens. 

Thankfully, there are fleeting moments of brilliance on this thing, which will keep me interested in where Munoz goes from here. “Hey Girl” is an extremely solid pop song, super catchy. “Alelula” is an interlude which features better singing and more emotion than every song on the album except “te vas // don’t go”, which is the artistic and emotional summit of the album. There is no denying Boy Pablo has talent, but he needs to find some source of inspiration outside of making cookie cutter indie tracks if he wants to establish himself as a new wave artist with some serious traction. 

 

Fav Songs: hey girl, te vas // don’t go, aleluya 

Rating: 3.9/10 

Michael Barnes

Aly Lathrow Reviews 'Evening Grooves'

Evening Grooves was a virtual concert hosted by student organization Empty Mug Records. It featured 6 different acts, 3 openers and 3 headliners. Of course, because it was hosted on Friday the 13th, something had to go wrong. 

 

The first 5 acts went well, the stream quality was great and the sound was impeccable. Ferris Hill stated off strong with a soulful solo song. Next was Dreamboyshey with a…. interesting… hip hop inspired song. He was laying on the ground for a good part of the set and the audio was mixed a little weirdly. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th sets were all great with a range of brass and acoustic jams featuring SMTD students Madelyn&Logan, Kektus, and Moodswing. The final act, Sabbatical Bob, had some pretty big tech issues. The audio was never stable for their full 20 minute set. You win some ya lose some I guess. There were a good amount of views and the club made $135 to distribute to the artists. Overall a success!

 

Written by Aly Latherow

 

Will Butler: Generations (review by Christa V.)

Will Butler is probably best known for his work as a member of Arcade Fire, but he has also been making solo albums since 2015. Generations is Butler's thirdsolo album. While all of them represent the variety of music he can produce, Generations is particularly hard to pin down. The song "Bethlehem" could befrom an 80s punk band, while "Close My Eyes" is all folk, and "Surrender" showcases gospel influences. Another theme of this album is creating catchy,upbeat songs about very dark themes. "Promised" captures this the best where the lyrics are about being betrayed by a lover, yet somehow it is just so fun andcatchy. The fact that Butler can sustain this balance primarily with his vocals speaks to his talent. "Not Gonna Die" is similar where it sounds like a ballad atthe beginning, but then hits its stride as a gospel chorus number. But the lyrics are also all about death. Other songs with great contrast are "Outta Here" and"Hide it Away."  Favorite tracks: 2, 5, 8

'songs' by Adrianne Lenker review

‘songs’ Review

 

Big Thief frontwoman Adrianne Lenker has returned with another solo release, a two-part LP titled ‘songs’, with a subsequent tape of two towering instrumentals. Fans of Lenker like myself have been far from deprived of material recently. Big Thief has established their presence in the indie-folk scene following their incredible debut record Masterpiece and 2017 effort Capacity. 2019 was a busy year for the band as they released 2(!) full length LPs, U.F.O.F and Two Hands. Following the critical and audience success of their 2 2019 albums, Big Thief was planning to tour prior to, you guessed it, COVID. Yes I know fans everywhere were deprived of seeing one of the most unique yet consistent bands in concert and that is a drag, but newfound free time allowed Lenker to isolate in a cabin with an acoustic guitar and flesh out this new solo material, which turned out to be one of the most beautiful albums released this year. 

 

Lenker was successful in her efforts to keep this album as bare bones as possible, mimicking the environment she cooped herself up in, “The one-room cabin felt like the inside of an acoustic guitar, it was such a joy to hear the notes reverberate in the space.” said Lenker when asked about her surroundings during recording. Sonically, the album's simplicity is its best friend, each song featuring Lenker’s chilling voice with minimal effects and an acoustic guitar, this minimalism helps emphasize her lyrics and contribute to the thematic ideas throughout the listen of loss, emptiness, and longing. Lenker’s heartbreak is palpable immediately as she cries out on the first track, “two reverse”, “Tell me lies. I wanna see your eyes. Is it a crime to say, I still need you? Crime, wanna feed you.”. Lenker continues to refer to this person in the second person, as if they are too locked in isolation with her as she pleads for them to stay by her side. On ‘anything’, she repeats “I don’t want to talk about anything… I wanna witness your eyes looking”. The first half of the album is largely a reminiscent version of Lenker expressing her desire for how things used to be. This is until the thematic climax of the album, “zombie girl”, when she begins to question and ponder on the nature of her emotion. She asks, “Oh emptiness, tell me about your nature, maybe I’ve been getting you wrong.”. When she finally begins to question her emptiness, the purpose of the record begins to shine through.

 

This record describes Lenker trying to answer the nature of her emptiness to no avail. In any attempt to discover this origin, she continues to revert back to longing for what was. Above all else, this is an album which highlights Lenker’s humanity, she doesn’t pretend to know the answers, she does what all people do, she copes. Lenker heals through ‘songs’, this was an album that was equally as important to her as it is for those who can feel as empty as she does during these trying times. “songs” is Lenker coping with her issues and inviting us to do the same with her, to be her “lap when I’m crying”. This is 39 minutes of critical exploration of herself only to realize there are things that she cannot understand, things like emptiness that she must “Cover with questions, cover with explanations, cover with music”.

 

- Michael Barnes

 

Favorite Songs: two reverse, ingydar, anything, heavy focus, half return, zombie girl

 

7/10

Deerhoof: Love-Lore (album review by Victoria A.)

Deerhoof has been turning out solid art pop for 20 years, but this pandemic cover album takes it in a new direction. It is a live recorded mashup of 43 different midcentury hits in 35 minutes in spurts as short as 5 seconds of spoken word over the Knight Rider theme and as long as 2 minutes of Wonderful by the Beach Boys over that bit from Star Trek that sounds like space lasers. It has elements of the old Deerhoof in its always surprising compositions, unraveling of melody into noise, and the ethereal vocals of Satomi Matsuki. Iit is one of the more accessible Deerhoof albums for someone not into their usual dissonance, and makes a great intro to the genre while appealing to fans.

Stay tuned for more music reviews by WCBN staffers!

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